When it comes to free agents, not all free agents are created equal. The most popular type of free agent would be the Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA). A UFA can sign with any team they choose once the league year begins. What most fans don’t realize is there are two other types of free agents.
Restricted Free Agents (RFAs) and Exclusive Right Free Agents (ERFAs)
For more information on these types of free agents, you can check those out below:
Unrestricted Free Agents (UFA): Any player with four or more accrued seasons and an expired contract; free to negotiate and sign with any team.
Restricted free agent (RFA): A player with three accrued seasons and an expired contract. RFAs are free to negotiate and sign with any team, but their original team can offer them one of various qualifying offers (“tenders”) that come with the right of first refusal and/or draft-pick compensation. If the tender is withdrawn by a team, the RFA becomes an unrestricted free agent. In 2021, teams must submit these tenders before 4 p.m. ET on March 16. These amounts change annually.
Exclusive rights free agent (ERFA): Any player with fewer than three accrued seasons and an expired contract. If his original team offers him a one-year contract at the league minimum (based on his credited seasons), the player cannot negotiate with other teams.
With that out of the way, it became news on Wednesday when an NFL memo showed the Steelers haven’t tendered any of their restricted rights free agents, namely James Pierre, J.C. Hassenauer or Steven Sims. Considering the deadline to make such a move was Wednesday at 4pm ET, these players would now become UFAs.
This per Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
According to NFL memo, the Steelers did not tender any of their restricted free agents: James Pierre, J.C. Hassenauer or Steven Sims. Could be trying to work out deals for lesser amounts with all three players, however. Some such deals already have happened around league.— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) March 15, 2023
As Rutter suggests, the Steelers could be trying to negotiate a lesser deal for these players, but a typical RFA contract isn’t expensive. Nonetheless, after the Steelers signed the following players to new contracts, they will have to make some necessary salary cap space to accommodate these new deals:
- CB Patrick Peterson
- G Nate Herbig
- Safety Damontae Kazee
- DL Larry Ogunjobi
- LB Cole Holcomb
Any number of things could be happening in the coming days with these players, as well as other free agents, so be sure to stay tuned to BTSC as the Steelers press on throughout the 2023 offseason.